Red Cross workers found 115 bodies in the Central African Republic diamond mining town Bangassou after days of militia attacks, the president of the aid group’s local branch said.
The battle for control of the town marks a new escalation in a conflict that began in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisal killings from Christian militias.
Recent clashes centred on the diamond-rich central and southern areas of the country, with rival militias battling among themselves to control them, aid workers say.
“We found 115 bodies and 34 have been buried,” Antoine Mbao Bogo told Reuters from Bangui. “They died in various ways: from knives, from clubs and bullet wounds.”
A senior UN official previously reported 26 civilian deaths.
Hundreds of militia with heavy weaponry seized Bangassou at the weekend and UN peacekeepers have since been trying to wrest it back.
The deployment of extra UN troops and air strikes has helped peacekeepers regain control of strategic points, UN spokesman Herve Verhoosel said.
Clashes between militias in Bria have killed five people, he added. The UN is also seeking to verify the deaths of up to 100 people in Alindao.